Late last night, several hundred predominantly white men descended upon the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville to participate in a “Unite the Right” march on behalf on the Alt-Right movement.
In an almost immediate response, anti-racist protesters gathered today to demonstrate their vehement opposition to these actions and sentiments. This event quickly turned violent when a car accelerated into the crowd, killing one and injuring many other peaceful protesters. A state of emergency has been declared in Virginia.
These manifestations were sparked by the city’s recently announced plan to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from the park in downtown Charlottesville. The same proposal was made and executed in New Orleans earlier this summer, also sparking huge controversy and exposing a city and country struggling to reconcile its deep differences.
There is no room to debate exactly what these demonstrations were all about. There is no time to turn a blind eye. And there is no reason to pretend that these events were actually about the removal of a statue. Last night’s event was one of today’s most egregious demonstrations of hatred towards black people and minority groups in America. Period.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are currently ablaze with outrage and confusion. These events are strong reminders that racism and hatred is alive and well in America. It’s existed in one form or another since the birth of our country, but this modern upsurge of intolerance is arguably the most alarming to date.
What is important to remember is that these incidents do not occur in a vacuum nor are they coincidental. Racist expressions like these are undoubtedly related to today’s ever-worsening political situation. Donald Trump and his administration are paving the way for overt racism and resurrecting an historic cultural divide.
It’s only a matter of time before we witness another of these immensely discouraging events. We must not only condemn these actions and behaviors, but actively counter them with twice as much outrage and sustained support for oppressed peoples in this country.